Blockchain technology has many capabilities and, in some industries like energy, it’s already proving its worth. Blockchain can cut out the middlemen and allow solar power users to monetise surplus credits. Using solar energy blockchain systems can therefore make solar power users more profitable – provided they choose the right provider.
As of March 2018, there were 122 blockchain start-ups in the energy space. Between them, they raised more than $320 million between Q2 2017 and Q1 2018. While that’s potentially good news for solar power users, they should also proceed with caution.
Quite a few of the solar energy blockchain companies on the list have already crashed out of the market. They left behind only an error message where their website and promises once were.
Notwithstanding, there’s still plenty of potential for blockchain and solar energy to work together. There are also several reputable companies helping users to become profitable. Let’s take a look at some of the facts.
Bitcoin mining requires a lot of power which solar energy could provide
It’s no secret that mining Bitcoin requires a lot of computational power. Yet you may be surprised to learn exactly how much it takes. A Dutch researcher from Leiden University estimated back in 2017 that an energy draw of Bitcoin at 700 megawatts per year could mean as much as 4 gigawatts by 2020.
To put that into context, that’s as much energy as the country of Denmark uses in an entire year. And if Bitcoin mining steps up a gear, those figures can only rise. This power-thirsty technology then seems at odds with solar energy at first. After all, solar power users are generally aiming to make a positive difference against climate change.
Yet, this is where solar energy blockchain systems could allow for the two to exist and bloom in harmony. With the majority of Bitcoin users made up of environmentally friendly millennials, mining has started to turn to sources of clean energy.
So far, that has been largely made up of geothermal energy found in Iceland or tidal power in Quebec. However, a solar energy blockchain setup could power Bitcoin mining – as well as provide a significant profit for solar power users.
Australia’s DC Two is currently building the first solar-powered cryptocurrency mining farm, and several other projects have thrown their hats into the ring.
Blockchain technology can track and compensate solar energy production
Blockchain technology’s potential for the solar energy industry doesn’t stop at Bitcoin. In fact, that’s just one way that solar power users can become more profitable. As a decentralised public ledger, companies can use solar energy blockchain systems to track units of energy produced and reward excess production.
This means that instead of having surplus energy go to waste, solar energy users can turn their excess into profit.
According to the MIT Technology Review, this has unlimited potential for transforming the energy grid, reducing the effects of climate change, and incentivising people to use solar energy. After all, there’s nothing like a cheaper power bill or rebate to encourage people to go green.
One such company that’s been in existence since 2014 is SolarCoin, which works as a rewards programme for solar energy generation. One SolarCoin equals one megawatt-hour of solar energy production. For users who want to monetise their coins, they can convert them into Bitcoin and then the currency of their choice.
Solar energy blockchain enables peer-to-peer energy transactions
Blockchain energy can also provide the necessary structure to allow peer-to-peer trading of surplus energy credits. This gives consumers access to clean energy more easily while reducing their power bills.
Australian blockchain start-up Power Ledger is already using a blockchain platform that does exactly that. In addition to the benefits of cutting out the middlemen, solar users can receive immediate pay for the energy produced, rather than waiting for a utility cycle that can last up to 80 days.
Power Ledger was the winner of Richard Branson’s Extreme Tech Challenge in 2018, which shows that its innovative use of emerging technology hasn’t gone unnoticed.
There are other solar energy blockchain companies allowing for peer-to-peer trading. The German-based Conjoule is aimed specifically at rooftop solar panel owners, but also works with some corporate buyers and public sector services.
WePower also allows for peer-to-peer energy credit trading, while also incentivising customers who invested in expensive solar panels with a cheaper monthly bill. They can also monetise and sell their energy surplus for WePower tokens (WPR).
Blockchain can make solar power users more profitable, and solar power can potentially provide a sustainable way forward for Bitcoin mining.
Just remember that like most emerging technologies, blockchain isn’t perfect yet. Try to avoid the hype and companies that are still finding their feet in the market. If you’re looking to monetise your excess power, be sure to choose a provider whose technology is tried and tested.